Ala. legislators call special school safety meeting Jan. 9 - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Ala. legislators call special school safety meeting Jan. 9

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Source: MGN Online Source: MGN Online
MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) -

Today Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard announced the state house and senate will convene a joint hearing focusing on school safety in January.

A joint hearing like this on such short notice with high profile speakers is unusual and the legislators and state officials FOX6 News talked to today say that's a sign of how seriously state government is about re-examining every aspect of school safety in the wake of the shootings in Connecticut.

State Rep Mary Sue McClurkin watched the images coming from Sandy Hook Elementary in horror last Friday just like everyone else.

"I was just horrified, truly, it was so heartbreaking because those young, the very young ones, were the ones I taught," McClurkin said.

McClurkin is a former teacher herself and now she chairs the house education committee and will co-chair the joint hearing on Jan. 9 when lawmakers will question local sheriffs, district attorneys, and State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice about how safe Alabama's schools are and what needs to be improved.

"I think we can't just see a situation like this happen someplace else and say that we're protected and it's not important and it won't happen in Alabama. So I think that definitely plays an important role in it," McClurkin.

"Dr. Bice feels ultimately responsible for the happenings at any and every school and he was extremely saddened and devastated by the tragedy on Friday. It really made us look at what we were doing, and Alabama's been very proactive over the years," department of education spokesperson Malissa Valdes-Hubert said.

Since 1999, every school district is required to keep and update a school safety plan, coordinating with local police and sheriff's offices about how to protect schools.

Today Dr. Bice's office said funding for the Children's First Fund has dropped in recent years, that's the budget item that helps pay for some school resource officers, and a place where the state could look at pouring in extra funding to make campuses more secure.

"We will have to look at where we can put our resources, because it's just not an infinite supply of money to do all the things we want, but school safety is most important, I just think we'll have to figure out some way to utilize the resources we have," McClurkin said.

Dr. Bice's office also told us today they are going back and looking at all of their guidance when it comes to school safety in the wake of the Newtown shootings and Dr. Bice is looking forward to testifying at this hearing on Jan. 9.

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